(AP) — Led by an impressive goaltending tandem and one of the NHL’s top goal scorers, the Columbus Blue Jackets are among the league’s hottest teams.
There’s no question which club is the coldest.
The New York Islanders hope to avoid a 14th consecutive defeat and prevent the Blue Jackets from a fifth straight win Wednesday night at Nassau Coliseum.
The young Islanders got off to a promising 4-1-2 start, but they’ve managed two points during the longest losing streak in franchise history. The NHL record is 17 straight losses, set by the 1974-75 Capitals and matched by the 1992-93 Sharks.
“It’s unacceptable for us,” said Rick DiPietro, whose 3.93 goals-against average ranks 44th among 45 qualifying goalies. “We need to win games. There are no excuses. … It’s frustrating, because we know what we’re capable of doing.”
New York (4-12-4) nearly snapped the skid Sunday but squandered a third-period lead and lost 2-1 in overtime at Atlanta, falling to 0-2-1 since interim coach Jack Capuano replaced Scott Gordon.
“We had several chances to win,” forward Matt Moulson said. “We have to score goals. … You can’t take comfort in getting just one point.”
The offensive struggles were nothing new for the Islanders, who are 0 for 24 on the power play in their last six games. They’ve failed to score more than one goal nine times in their last 11, totaling 12 goals in that stretch.
Columbus (13-6-0) has scored 14 goals during its four-game winning streak – two shy of the franchise record set from March 24-April 3, 2006 – but the defense has been more impressive lately as the Blue Jackets have moved within two points of Western Conference-leading Detroit.
After Mathieu Garon made 35 saves in a 3-0 win at San Jose on Saturday, capping a 3-0-0 trip through California, Steve Mason made 27 stops Monday in a 2-0 home win over Nashville.
“Obviously a shutout is a total team effort,” Mason said. “Much like we have had in our past couple of games, the defensemen have been great – a lot of blocked shots – and they are really making both goaltenders’ jobs easier.”
The goalies also are enjoying the efforts of Rick Nash, who had a hat trick against the Sharks and scored his 13th goal of the season against the Predators. Nash has a goal in six consecutive games – one shy of Geoff Sanderson’s franchise record – and a point in nine straight, matching a career high and a team mark.
“Things are just going in right now,” Nash said. “It’s been fun playing with (Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard). They’ve been setting me up. I’ve been setting them up. There’s been a lot of chemistry. Things are good.”
Nash scored six goals during the three-game California trip, helping the Blue Jackets improve to an NHL-best 6-1-0 on the road – not including a split with San Jose in Sweden.
Nash has not scored while the Blue Jackets have lost their last three trips to Long Island, but they’re 7-1-3 with a tie overall against New York. Mason is 1-0-1 with a 0.96 GAA versus the Islanders.
Updated November 23, 2010
w2 © 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.